Alan Pardew et al on the Wonga sponsorship deal

The other day I discussed my deep unhappiness at the decision of Newcastle United to agree a sponsorship deal with the ‘payday loan’ company firm Wonga, who it’s fair to say I don’t have a particularly high opinion of. In fact, beneath the kiddy-friendly advertising is in fact a company who are basically parasites.

The reason I have more to say a bit more on the matter is that Alan “shag his players’ wives” Pardew has regaled us with his ever-so-sophisticated arguments regarding why the deal with Wonga is such a good idea.

“As manager of this football club I can only say that to have the best sponsorship deal we’ve ever had is a good thing……..It’s about building the first team and it’s about having the financial muscle to start improving the academy – that’s an area where we’ve lagged behind some of the senior clubs. Now there’s no reason why we can’t be one of those top-four clubs, especially on an organisational front.”

This sponsorship deal won’t enable them to break into the top four and become a ‘senior club’, whatever they are. The amount of money isn’t that huge in the grand scheme of things. Running a serious academy operation doesn’t require this sponsorship deal either. Mike Ashley could put his hand in his very deep pockets. Or the money from the Andy Carroll transfer could have been used. Let’s follow Pardew’s logic through. If the money had come from an international drugs smuggling cartel determined to improve their public image, would that have been ‘a good thing’?

“I listened to the owner and their customer satisfaction levels are higher than any other bank or lending facility………..When Wonga have been involved in football clubs they’ve been very successful……….If our fans do have any concerns maybe they should contact Blackpool supporters [whose club is also sponsored by Wonga] and see how they’ve done. The feeling I get is that Blackpool fans have been happy with Wonga and what they’ve done for the club.”

So the owner of Wonga says that his company has the highest level of satisfaction of any bank or ‘lending facility’ (he was carefully listening to the spiel then……) and that’s sufficient proof for Pardew? It couldn’t be that Errol Damelin is bullshitting, could it? Or am I imagining some of the controversies?

And as for this shit regarding Blackpool, nobody is arguing that they have done any damage to the clubs they sponsor. That would be totally counter-productive for any sponsor, unless they had a death wish. The issue is the wider social harm the cheap publicity of being involved with football clubs has given Wonga. If this is the best Pardew can come up with, he really is a moron.

“You see other companies, whether it is Standard Chartered, who are the same type of business as Wonga, or betting companies sponsoring football clubs and nothing gets said……..When we get it we have MPs calling for all kind of things and it just seems strange.”

Again, I think we can assume that Pardew has been fed the line about Standard Chartered. I can’t claim to be an expert on their business model but it’s safe to say they have rather bigger fish to fry than the ‘payday loan’ market.

Pardew has gone from firstly arguing that Wonga are essentially great to now saying that because lots of other teams are sponsored by (similarly) dodgy companies he doesn’t understand why this deal is under so much scrutiny.  That’s quite a leap, I’m sure you’ll agree. And a very telling one.

If he is arguing that Newcastle United are being picked on or singled out he is really getting desperate.

The article I’m quoting from also includes a few words from Newcastle forward Shola Ameobi:

 “It’s fantastic news……….For me, speaking to the guys from Wonga I sensed that they want to help Newcastle turn into a club which brings young players through. That’s so important – we need the sustainability involved in bringing players through………The chairman and manager have brought stability to the club and now Wonga want to help them take the next step. Speaking to the guys, it was certainly my impression that they want to make sure it’s a fans’ club. They want to see the whole community brought into things.”

If Ameobi actually believes this (and some of what he says is simply embarrassing to be honest) then he has the mind of a child. Does he really think that Wonga’s cash is simply an act of altruism designed to “help Newcastle” with nothing expected in return?

Again, the quote contains the canard about this deal being the only way that young players can be brought through at the club; (why? What is so special about this deal? Is there no other way to develop the club’s academy? Have Wonga got magic beans to make the local kids better players or something?) clearly again he has been briefed by Wonga’s PR people before going in front of the media.

As for bringing ‘the whole community into things’, Ameobi may have inadvertently hit on something. After all, with all this increased publicity Wonga may well get lots of extra business from the local community…………

I’m pretty sure that Wonga are spectacularly unconcerned whether Newcastle United are ‘a fans club’ or not. I defy anyone to disagree with me.

Indeed, this ‘community’ fluff seems to be a standard buzzword in Newcastle United shirt sponsorship deals. Maybe they think if they use the word often enough it starts to sound plausible. Is it Premier League’s answer to our politician’s use of ‘aspiration’?

All in all, deeply unedifying. And leaving aside the moral repugnance of partnering with a company as utterly loathsome as Wonga, the quotes above also betray something of a small time mentality on the part of Newcastle United. Wonga don’t have the money required to propel Newcastle into regular Champions League qualifiers, however profitable their business model clearly is. This deal simply isn’t going to have the magical effect the club is suggesting it will.

If anything, all this deal serves to highlight is that Newcastle probably aren’t a ‘senior club’, to use Alan Pardew’s bizarre parlance.

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